Citizens of the Impact Advisory Group (IAG) for the $1 billion Boston Garden development project are calling foul on Mayor Menino’s “compromise” agreement with developers, Boston Properties and Delaware North and their plan for a mega-complex in front of the existing TD Garden.
Citing no significant concessions to neighborhood concerns regarding the 600 foot tower height or traffic mitigation, the group refers to Menino’s previous statements that the developers’ would make changes in response to public comments.
Further, the IAG members question the assessment of “blight” that would result in a $7.8 million tax break for the tri-tower complex on Causeway Street.
In a statement, the Mayor’s office cited the hope that such a deal would help developers attract a Star Market supermarket, long desired in the downtown neighborhoods. The Boston Redevelopment Authority board is set to approve the Boston Garden project at a December 19th meeting, the last in Mayor Menino’s term.
The letter from IAG members is shown below in its entirety.
December 11, 2013
Mayor Thomas M. Menino
City of Boston
1 City Hall Square, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02201-2013
Subject: 80 Causeway Street (Boston Garden) Development Dear Mayor Menino:
As members of the Boston Garden Development Impact Advisory Group, the developer’s representative recently informed us that the project is moving forward for BRA Board approval on December 19, 2013, just one week away.
Many IAG members, both in meetings and comment letters, expressed significant concerns about:
- The 600-foot height and the precedent it sets for future development in the area, particularly in the Partners HealthCare-owned Nashua Street quadrant and at the Equity Residential Garage site,
- The traffic impacts of this project, especially when considered with the nine additional approved and proposed developments in the West End, and
- The implication of calling this project parcel “blighted” so there can be a 121A tax break given to the developers for the first Phase. We still do not know any of the details about this tax break.
While we were given the opportunity to speak, we do not feel we were heard, nor were our concerns given serious consideration. There has not been one meaningful concession on the major issues.
At this point it is clear the project is moving forward. While we do want the project to move forward and have made some very clear comments of support and enthusiastic recognition for many of its proposed aspects, we know we have ultimately not had any real mitigating impact on the project “impacts” you asked us to advise you about. We ask you now, as concerned neighborhood representatives and, as your neighborhood appointees on this Mayor’s Impact Advisory Group, for your help. You, as our “people’s” Mayor, recently gave us much hope when you urged the developer to work with us for a compromise (BBJ 11/7/2013: “Mayor Thomas M. Menino… insisted the developer consider neighborhood concerns about setting a precedent with a (600 foot) skyscraper at the TD Garden. “There has to be a compromise someplace in this development,” Menino said. “I have faith in Boston Properties to work with the community. They have been excellent in other developments in the city and they will work on this one. I believe there will be a compromise.”)
Please help us realize the compromise to which you refer. The historic Bulfinch Triangle section of our West End neighborhood consists predominantly of 150-foot warehouse style buildings. We ask again for your help in requiring the developer to limit the precedent-setting height of their skyscraper to preserve and enhance as much of the character of our neighborhood as possible.
Thank you for your consideration.
Boston Garden IAG Members
Linda Ellenbogen, Hawthorne Place Condominium
Joanne Fantasia, North End
Brian Rettman, Strada 234
Kathleen Ryan, West End Council
Louise Thomas, West End Civic Association
Jim Zahka, Strada 234, West End Civic Association
Update: Friday, December 13, 2013 – Letter from IAG Member Robert O’Brien, Executive Director of the Downtown North Association
Fellow Members of the Impact Advisory Group for the Boston Garden Project:
With respect, I do not believe that the letter to the Mayor sent by some members of the Impact Advisory Group fully reflects the progress that has been made on this project since its Project Notification Form (PNF) was filed on September 6th. Clearly, there has been no change in the proposed zoning allowance height of the tallest project tower; but there have been several significant and substantive changes in other aspects of the project, as I think the Supplemental Information filed on December 6th makes clear. These certainly include, but are by no means limited to, the report of real progress on the development of a long-awaited supermarket as part of the first phase of the project, on which I would expect there will be more details announced before the BRA Board Meeting. And while we may not know all of the details of the 121A agreement, we do know its basic parameters, which are limited in both scope and duration. And I would expect more information on that matter will also be forthcoming. As for traffic impacts, I believe that the end-state traffic analysis does take all area projects into account, as required, although as DNA comments on the PNF emphasized, there is need for a more comprehensive and coordinated strategy for construction-period traffic management and mitigation,
Attached hereto is a preliminary analysis of the Supplemental Information, which has been shared with the DNA Board and touches on many of these same points. While I understand your concern and that of others on the IAG with regard to the height issue, and agree that it is important, it is not the only project issue worthy of note, nor should it preclude reference to other changes that have been made — or to the significance of the final design process that has yet to begin.
In that context, as a member of the IAG, I could not sign-on to the letter that was actually sent.
Robert B. O’Brien, Executive Director Downtown North Association and Member of the Boston Garden Project IAG
17 Replies to “Boston Garden Development Advisory Group Members Question City Hall Deal”
In my humble opinion….
1.) Boston has a small foot print, not allowing for vertical growth because the majority of buildings there were built over a century ago in a neighborhood with limited draw year round (Have you seen North Station/West End during the summer – its dead) will stimey the Boston of the future and keep the cost of living climbing and allowing the rental market for year round to be “unregulated”.
2.) The majority of residents, visitors, and hotel guest would be pedestrian centric and would further enhance Boston’s image as a “walking city” Yes Congestion may increase on the average day but it wouldn’t be any different than your typical event night at the garden and the infrastructure can handle that so any improvement made to the street flow will help.
Clark Street. What are you saying, exactly. No comprendo.
The neighborhood does not have a limited draw. Have you seen the tourists crowding the streets and walking the Freedom Trail? The West End is very alive with residents and employees from the hospital. Don’t quite understand your point –
Clark Street is right. That’s a pretty dead area. The Freedom Trail does NOT go through that area and there is no reason for tourists (or residents) to visit that area now, since all that is there currently is a parking lot, a parking garage, and that generic Federal building. Not to mention the boarded up storefronts across from the Garden. I applaud those businesses like North Star and Boxer hotel who set up shop within those sketchy blocks across from the Garden. That whole area is far from vibrant and not very safe, let’s not kid ourselves here. The area from Lovejoy Wharf to the Museum is pretty much a dead zone in need of development, much like the Fan Pier area. Evidence of this is the fact that the space currently occupied by the Ward 8 restaurant on North Washington St just couldn’t support the previous 3 restaurants over the past 10 years, which have either gone out of business (Francesco’s and the brief Asian restaurant) or have moved (like Nebo who saw the writing on the wall and moved on to much “greener” pastures).
It makes no sense to support the construction of this project but then wish to limit the height to 150 ft or even 400 ft – that would be a serious waste of space. If developed, designed, and built correctly, a 600 ft tower could be a beautiful addition to this area. I live in North End and have 2 cars – yes, parking is tough. But I’m not worried or upset about the potential for more challenges in parking. To stand in the way of progress and opportunity just because you’re worried about finding a parking spot for your car is selfish and myopic, and quite frankly a small town view. If parking is that much of a problem then let’s lobby the City to do something about the abuse of the valet parking tactics in North End, which happen every night in front of the major restaurants on Hanover; let’s enforce the non-resident parking in resident spots; enforce the saving of spots with cones; get rid of more of the visitor spots and provide more resident spots. In other words, before criticizing new projects and always playing the “parking” card, let’s clean up our own backyard and maximize our parking options. It’s not the developer’s problem that the North End is congested and has a parking problem, so let’s not make it their problem.
What facts do you have that that area is “not very safe”?
John – why do I need to support this with facts?
Maybe you are not too familiar with the area or with the proposed project, not everyone is. Take a walk through the area at night, or better yet ask a female friend to walk around the area by herself at night and see what she tells you. Go and count the people sleeping in the doorways of the defunct buildings, as well as the defunct buildings, and count the junkies and drug dealers and compare those numbers to what you tally in other vibrant neighborhoods. I can surely contact BPD and get police reports and then compare them to other neighborhoods – but for what?
OK…it’s just your opinion. No facts about how safe or unsafe the area is right now. Fair enough.
I have walked down north Station I was scared so I asked a police officer what was going on with all homeless drugs people lying on the sidewalk He said They should all be put on a barge! (send them out to sea) He was on a construction detail He laughed and shook his head which I found that not funny and scary!
Furthermore I don’t see parking as an issue, since the development includes about 1.2 new parking spots per residential unit (in addition to maintaining the number of parking spots for the cars currently parked on that lot).
That’s not the whole IAG – that’s just 6 of 13.
If there’s a supermarket, then we should let them start this tomorrow. No one wants to wait another decade.
@Ricky the issues you bring up are the result of some of the clientèle of the Lindemann Mental health Ctr which is just up the street.
Michaeld, You are so right, and the North End is becoming an extension of the Lindemann, and I
rather be in the original Lindemann at least they have a great view of the Charles River, and you
can live RENT FREE.
to No. End Landlord.
The North End is certainly not becoming an extension of the Lindemann Center.
During the past 15 years, I’ve seen only two women roaming the streets, who were obviously handicapped mentally. As for Ricky’s comment on the danger of women walking alone in the Garden area, that really isn’t proving anything at this point, since I know women who refuse to cut through the Nazarro playground after 9 p.m. Well, we could go on and on, and I’d like to discuss this ad infinitum, but to no avail. Bye.
I do not understand objections stating this sets a ‘precedent’ for more tall buildings in the area. Has anyone noticed the reprehensible real-estate market lately? This city has a feverish need for more housing and tall residential buildings provide a lot of it.
Resident – excellent point. In addition, we don’t have enough hotel space in the City and lose out to other cities when it comes to conventions, which is one of the subtle messages in this article about the expansion of the BCEC:
Meridith, I have been living in the No. End a lot longer than 15 years. Do you recall the Neo-Nazi
that moved to Salem St. and wanted to blow up the Zakim Bridge, that is only 1 example and only
God knows what moved into this neighborhood. The No. Station area had a terrorist on the 23rd
floor of one of their apt. buildings who was involved in 911. All we can do is hope & pray that
there are not anymore disturbed people running around the neighborhood, but I doubt it. Most of
the landlords improved the looks of their property that is about it. I could go on forever, but I don’t
want to bore you with the facts. Happy Holidays
It would be nice to have more residents and tourists in this area.
It is had to walk around there, even in the day, without being accosted by beggers and having to cross the street to avoid drunks and drug addicts. Not a really comfortable place for women and families in the evening or at night.
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